‘613 Concepts’ Category Archives

19
Jul

Readings: Parsha Mitzvot-Vaetchanan-Talmud Torah

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in 613 Concepts, Portion of the Week

Elevate The Reader, by Brian Doyle – The American Scholar: The second great editor I worked for, after Mister Burns in Chicago, who taught me to never begin a sentence with the word hopefully and indeed to search out and destroy all adverbs as unnecessary crutches for poor writing, was a newspaper editor named Floyd Kemske in Boston. Floyd was a lean, erudite, amused man who often said his idea of heaven was an evening in a bubble bath with fine wine and his lovely bride, an image I never could erase fully from my mind; even today when I think of the heaven that all editors will surely achieve, as reward for having endured poets and proofreaders, it is a heaven filled with bubbles and excellent wines and the alluring smile of a woman I met, interestingly, while learning to be an editor from Floyd.

Floyd said many other memorable things. Elevate the reader, that was my favorite, and clarity is first and verve is second, and writing that is all about the writer is selfish and writing that is about the reader is at least useful. Mostly he would say these things while leaning back in his chair during editorial meetings, thumbs hooked in his suspenders. In general these meetings were not thrilling, as the two newspapers we produced in our office were devoted to computer training, trends, and products, but Floyd slowly taught me, by the force of his example, that my initial feeling that our work was boring was foolish, and our real work was to help people grapple with new ways of living their lives. In a real sense, I learned from Floyd, we were guides through a dense and confusing wilderness, translators of a new tongue for people who spoke it only haltingly if at all, companions along roads so newly cut that even we did not know how far they extended.

I cannot say that I grew into any sort of computer expertise at all in my years at those newspapers—I remain a happy doofus, able only to write small essays and check box scores on my computer—but the lessons I learned from Floyd have stayed with me through nearly 30 more years in the editor’s chair: elevation, clarity, assistance, humility. At least be useful in your work; at best lift the mind and heart and spirit; and if you do your work well, in the end you will be rewarded with fine wine, a bubble bath, and a woman with the most remarkable blue eyes.

Brian Doyle is the editor of Portland magazine at the University of Portland, and the author most recently of the novel Mink River. He writes the weekly Epiphanies column at theamericanscholar.org.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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19
Jul

Readings: Parsha Mitzvot-Vaetchanan-Tefillin

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in 613 Concepts, Portion of the Week

No, you never will bind him

To your signs and your burdens!

The least chink — he’s inside it,

Like the supplest of gymnasts.

By the drawbridges

And flocks in migration,

By the telegraph poles,

God’s escaping us.

No, you never will train him

To abide and to share!

He, in feelings’ resident slush,

Is a gray floe of ice.

No, you never will catch him!

On a thrifty dish, God

Never thrives in the window

Like domestic begonias!

All, beneath the roof’s vault,

We’re awaiting the builder,

The call. Poets and pilots

— All gave up in despair.

He’s the sprint — and he’s moving.

The whole volume of stars

Is, from Alpha to Omega,

Just a trace of his cloak.

1922

by Marina Tsvetaeva

(1892 – 1941) Timeline

English version by

Paul Graves

Original Language

Russian

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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26
Aug

Pip and Yom Kippur-Personal Ramblings

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in 613 Concepts, Holidays

It is not easy to put a beloved pet to sleep. It was clear that Pip was suffering. He couldn’t stand, eat, drink, or even relieve himself. He had to be relieved of his suffering, and yet, it was almost unbearable to be with him in the room as the veterinarian administered the drugs.

She first gave him a sedative to calm him and I insisted that he not be placed on the surgical table, but that I hold him in his final moments. He smooshed his head into my chest and looking up licked the tears off my face.

The decision to euthanize was the most compassionate, and yet I still felt guilty. I felt, with life and death of an animal in my hands, as if I were living the commandment, “If a birds nest chances to be before you (Deuteronomy 22:6),” which is the subject of debate between many of the great thinkers of our heritage, who use this commandment to explore the very purpose of Commandments.

“The Sages have already arranged it for us in Neilah, the closing service of Yom Kippur, ‘You have distinguished man from the beginning, and have recognized him to be privileged to stand before You, for who shall say to You, ‘ What are You doing?’ And if a person is righteous what can he possibly give You?’

Similarly, it states in the Torah, “Which I command you this day for your good (Deuteronomy 10:13).” Also, “And the Eternal commanded us to do all the statutes, to fear the Eternal, our Lord, for our good always.”

The intent in all these expressions is “for our good,” and not for His, blessed and exalted be He! Rather, everything we have been commanded is so that His creations be refined and purified, free from the dross of evil thoughts and blameworthy traits of character (Translated by Rabbi Dr. Charles Chavel zt”l).”

The only thing we can “give” God is to use this life for good; to use His Mitzvot to refine ourselves.

There are times when acts of compassion hurt. I thought of the Ramban’s reference to Neilah as the gates were closing on Pip’s life: We are reminded to use all such moments, “for our good,” to refine our character. Pip helped everyone in my family refine themselves:

Pip help me become a better, more consistent parent.

We jokingly referred to him as, “The Pipometer,” because he would tremble whenever someone in the room was tense. He helped all of us learn to manage our anger.

He taught us forgiveness; he would lovingly run to us just moments after we would speak roughly to him.

He was a great teacher of humility, because even when students would treat me with great honor, Pip would gently remind me that my job was to clean his poop.

He greeted everyone with a wagging tail and filled with joy.

He was great comfort whenever a member of the family needed a companion.

Pip was a dog. He was also a friend and teacher. He was a constant lesson in character refinement; that we can use anything in life, even a dog, to derive insights into ways to make ourselves better people.

If I can learn from a dog how to refine my character, I can surely learn more from the Torah and Mitzvot.

Additional Thoughts: The fast is almost over by the time we reach Neilah on Yom Kippur, but we can use our hunger to refine our character and think of those who are constantly hungry because they are too poor to buy food.

Our feet hurt and we can think of those who can’t afford shoes.

We can empathize with those who have yet to find love.

We can consider those who don’t have clean water in which to wash.

We can reflect on whether we have refined our character to constantly think of others.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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26
Aug

BNN Reports: Scandal Rocks Victory Parade

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in 613 Concepts, Portion of the Week

This is Simcha Weinberg reporting for the BNN, The Biblical News Network, from a victory parade for our soldiers returning from a battle to expand the boundaries of Israel; a celebration that was marred by scandal! A soldier returned home dragging a captured woman behind him. When asked why he brought this enemy woman home with him, he replied, “I saw this woman in middle of battle and my passion was inflamed. The Torah allowed me to grab her.”

“What do you mean that you were permitted to grab her?”

“Well, I wasn’t exactly sure because I learned in yeshiva that there is a debate between Rashi and the Ramban on the one hand, and Tosafot on the other, as to what exactly I was permitted to do.”

“Let me understand, you said that you were allowed to grab her because your passion was inflamed, and that the Torah was acknowledging your uncontrollable desire. Then you said, that despite your inflamed passion, you were still concerned about exactly what it was the Torah gave you permission to do!”

“If your passion was controlled enough for you to consider what you were permitted to do, then how could you say that your passion was uncontrollable?”

“May I ask what you ended up doing?”

The soldier refused to answer. He wanted his privacy.

He may have desired privacy but everyone in the community was talking. The women were looking at their husbands and sons and wondering what they were doing during the battle. Many women were overheard insisting, “My son would never do such a thing!” Some were overheard saying, “If my husband did anything like that, I’ll kill him”

The BNN decided to remain in the city and follow this story as it developed.

All the local sermons this past Shabbat were based on the same idea: “The juxtaposition of the first three laws in this week’s portion, the captured woman, the hated wife, and a rebellious child, are in themselves an implicit argument against this sort of liaison, for after giving the laws of the captive woman, the Torah speaks of a hated wife, and then an incorrigibly rebellious child.” The implication, insisted all the local rabbis, is that there is a chain reaction.  The improper infatuation with a captive woman will lead to one family tragedy after another!

I caught up with our soldier as he stormed from the synagogue immediately upon hearing the humiliating sermon, and asked for his reaction.

“How can the rabbis be so critical of my behavior when in my moment of ‘uncontrollable passion’ I still followed the letter of the law! How can they describe my behavior at this point as ‘inflamed passion’ when I am willing to go through the entire process of a month adhering to every detail of the law before deciding what I will do with her! This isn’t uncontrolled passion; it is passion directed by the letter of the law!”

The community is humming with debate regarding this soldier and his captive woman. Many women are insisting that they will not allow their sons and husbands to join the Army in the next  battle that is not specifically for the safety and security of the nation.

The eyes of the nation are turned to the King, David, who is universally regarded as our leader and teacher. Many are hesitant to directly ask King David for his input, because, as you all know, he once took a captive woman and he ended up having a rebellious child, Avshalom. Many quietly reflect that they are convinced that Avshalom originally chose to become a Nazirite to reject to his father’s behavior with uncontrolled passion. It’s interesting to note that Avshalom’s approach of containing his desires by becoming a Nazirite did not work for him, but that King David became the beautiful spiritual force that continues to live in the heart of all of Israel despite, or even because of, his great passion.

We hope to be able to interview the King and share his thoughts with our beloved audience. Please stay tuned to the BNN for further developments. You are welcome to submit your questions for the king.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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25
Aug

Eating Habits

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in 613 Concepts, Portion of the Week

We should look for someone with whom to eat and drink before looking for something to eat and drink, for dining alone and is leading the life of a lion or wolf (Epicurus).”

I’m not so sure that finding someone with whom to share a feast is necessarily going to protect a person from living the life of a wild beast. Bohumil Hrabal in “I Served The King of England,” describes a feast of wild antelope and roasted camel, the animals stolen from the local zoo, to honor Emperor Haley Selassie in 1939 Prague. As far as Hrabal was concerned, this was a meal of a wild beast.

I guess we can’t criticize anyone for their diet, as many would be disgusted by Cholent or steak. Of course, we would all agree that the dish of Powdered Wife described by John Smith (The Generall Historie of Virginia,) certainly qualifies as the meal of the beast.

How would we judge the enormous feasts consumed by the Rebellious Child? Does it qualify as something very strange, such as the meal prepared for Haley Selassie, or is it more like the meal of Powdered Wife? Perhaps, his eating habits are of concern because of Epicurus’s dictum against eating alone; his eating habits reflect a person who stands alone against the rest of the world.

Nachmanides explains that part of his sin is, “because he is a glutton, and a drunkard, transgressing that which we have been commanded, “You shall be holy (Leviticus 19:2),” and “He shall you serve, and to Him shall you cleave (Deuteronomy 13:5),” and we are commanded to know God in all our ways, and a glutton and a drunkard does not know the way of God.

It certainly doesn’t seem that Nachmanides sees this young man as a wild beast consuming a feast of antelope and camel, and certainly not a dish of Powdered Wife, but that he is someone who is he eating habits display that he is a person who does not know the way of God. I am confident that my eating habits do not reflect the strange dishes served to the Emperor of Ethiopia or the Powdered Wife consumed by a starving man in 1609 Jamestown, but I wonder whether my eating habits reflect someone who knows the way of God.

This is not about the ritual washing of hands before a meal, nor about the blessings before and after the meal, and it is not about our conversations while eating, but a description of the way we eat. Does our Netilat Yada’im lead us to be careful in the way we eat? Does our mention of God as King in our blessings before the meal remind us to eat as royalty, reflecting the way of God? It isn’t even about how we hold a knife and fork, because for ages people ate with their hands.

This is a lesson in eating with a sense of sanctity, and using eating as a way to attach to our Infinite Creator. I can’t do it when eating a candy bar, I have enough difficulty when eating a Shabbat meal.

I found that applying Epicurus’ rule led me to always imagine myself as setting in the eating at God’s table; I’m not alone. I’m aware that I am eating in the presence of Someone else. “When you sit down to dine with a ruler, know well what lies before you, put a knife to your throat if you are master of your soul. Do not lust for his delicacies, for it is deceitful bread (Proverbs 23:1–3).” King Solomon is teaching us that when we learn how to live life as one who is eating at the Kings table, we will learn how to master our desires in life. To ignore God’s presence even while we’re eating, is to act as did the mythical Rebellious Child.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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29
Dec

The Family Moves Part Four: Who’s In Charge

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in 613 Concepts, Portion of the Week

We have come full circle with the Master of Memory back to his dreams, and his guiding his brothers to restore their relationship with each other and with Jacob, and all the way back to Adam just outside the entrance to the Garden.

“Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it (Genesis 37:6-7).” Parts of the dream have been realized; the brothers bowed as they came to Joseph for grain. We have already explained how the dream was about the brothers, not Joseph, their greatness and unity, and, how one can bow with a sense of greatness without forfeiting his dignity. Yet, there is still far more to this dream: This was not the first time that Egypt fed the world during a famine leading to a meeting between Egypt and an Ivri. “There was a famine in the land, and Abram descended to Egypt to sojourn there for the famine was severe in the land (12:10).”

There was almost, but not quite, another meeting between Egypt and an Ivri; “Now there was a famine in the land—besides the previous famine in Abraham’s time—and Isaac went to Abimelech king of the Philistines in Gerar. God appeared to Isaac and said, ‘Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live. Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you. For to you and your descendants I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham. I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because Abraham obeyed me and did everything I required of him, keeping my commands, my decrees and my instructions (26:1-5).” Isaac was an unblemished offering, and, as such, it did not befit him to reside outside the Land (Rashi), although I would rephrase it and say, it did not befit him to ‘go down to Egypt!’ The verse stresses Egypt as representing the, yes, “Outside!”

This is a dream of how God feeds His creations. Egypt is watered by the Nile. Israel is dependent on rain. Egypt has food when the Land of Israel does not. Egypt represents a certain distance from God as the Sustainer, the very issue that led to the sins of the generation of the Flood, of The Tower of Babel, and of Sodom; the archenemy of Abraham. Egypt, “independent” of rain, is separated from the, “This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, when God the Lord made the earth and the heavens. Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth and no plant had yet sprung up, for God the Lord had not sent rain on the earth and (Rashi: Because) there was no man to work the ground (Rashi: pray for rain and acknowledge God’s continued sustenance of His creation), but mists came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground (Genesis 2:4-5).” Egypt is separated from the primal human and his work.

Although separated from Adam’s original responsibility, even in the Garden, Egypt helped “feed” him: “A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters. The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold (2:10-11).” Rashi explains; “Pishon is the Nile; because its waters gallop and rise and water the earth, it is called Pishon, as in, “Their cavalry gallops headlong – u’Fashu parashav (Habakuk 1:8).”

Joseph’s dream deals with the question of Divine Providence and how we should relate to it. Egypt, as did Adam, desired independence from God.

Cain, of the original battle over the birthright, attempted to repair Adam’s drive for independence. The Sages teach that he brought flax in the form of linen as his offering, and, guess which land is known for its flax: “A prophecy against Egypt: Those who work with combed flax will despair, the weavers of fine linen will lose hope (Isaiah 19:1 & 9).” [There’s more to the prohibition of mixing Cain’s linen with Abel’s wool than meets the eye!]

Joseph’s dream is how his brothers who so struggled with control, would come to the realization that God controls our destiny, our food, our lives: “So then, it was not you who sent me here, but the Lord. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt (Genesis 45:8),” and, when they refused to accept Joseph’s message, he repeated, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of the Lord? You intended to harm me, but the Lord intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children (50:19-20).”

From the moment he awoke from his dreams, Pharaoh understood and debated with Joseph this issue of Divine Providence.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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27
Dec

Master of Memory VI-A Father’s Lesson

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in 613 Concepts, Portion of the Week

“Emotions are the most basic form of communication between children & parents (Rav Noach Orloweck).”

“And they told him, saying, ‘Joseph is still alive,’ also that he is ruler over all the land of Egypt; but his heart was full of daggers, for he could not believe them (Genesis 45:26).”

“Joseph is still alive,” is a direct quote. “He is ruler over all the land of Egypt,” is an indirect quote. Why does the verse switch from a direct to an indirect quote?

The brothers observed Jacob’s reaction to their declaration that Joseph was alive. They saw something that made them hesitate midsentence and speak of Joseph as the ruler over Egypt with less emphasis. What did they observe? That “his heart was full of daggers.” The minute they said Joseph was still alive Jacob realized that when they came and showed him Joseph’s bloodstained tunic, indicating that a wild beast had devoured him; they had been lying. Their words of long ago were the daggers in Jacob’s heart.

I suspect that Jacob’s reaction was less of an emotional response than a lesson; “All his sons and all his daughters arose to comfort him, but he refused to comfort himself, and said: ‘For I will go down to the grave mourning for my son’ (Genesis 37:35).” Jacob has been using his emotional responses to his children as his way of teaching them.

The brothers had never paid attention to their father’s feelings: Jacob sent them to Egypt to buy food. They use this as an opportunity to search for their long-lost brother. I assume that the search added a few days to their trip to Egypt. They finally go to the Viceroy to purchase food and he imprisons them for a three-day period, adding quite a bit of time to their trip, but we never find a single indication that the brothers even considered whether their father would be worried about the unexpected length of their trip to Egypt!

Perhaps the brothers were uninterested in Jacob’s feelings because they mistrusted them; it was his feelings for Rachel that displaced Leah, and made Joseph the favorite son, the one who would wear the hated Coat of Many Colors.

Judah disappeared from the family for many years because the brothers felt that he had failed in his leadership role when he chose to turn a profit from the sale of Joseph, and somehow he returns to the family, and there seems to be no concern to explain to Jacob what happened with Judah.

We never find Jacob bemoaning the loss of another son during all the years when Judah had moved away. Surely this was a man whose feelings could not be trusted.

Reuben makes a ridiculous offer to his father: “you may slay my two sons if I fail to bring him back to you (to see 42:37).” It seems that Reuben believes that his father could shrug off the loss of Reuben’s sons! They don’t trust Jacobs feelings.

They are so cold to Jacob’s feelings that when he says to them, “Why did you treat me so ill by telling the man that you had another brother (43:6)?” They miss that Jacob is speaking as “Israel,” they miss that Jacob is speaking of his experience, “treat me so ill,” meaning, “you were not thinking of me!”

Judah is frustrated with his father; “For had we not delayed, by now we could have returned twice (Verse 10).” Is this the way a child should speak to a father?

These are men who seem totally inconsiderate of their father.

Joseph has prepared them to change the way they relate to Jacob, as we saw in “Master of Memory V: What Was in His Heart.” Judah’s long speech to the Egyptian viceroy is all about Jacob’s feelings. The brothers are prepared to pay attention to their father in a way they never had before.

They still had to learn one more important lesson: they had to learn how their words and behavior affected their father. They prepared Jacob for the news that Joseph was alive; fearing that a sudden announcement might shock and harm Jacob, the brothers sent one of his granddaughters to prepare him. She played her harp, and sang gently that Joseph was still alive and that he was the ruler of Egypt. Slowly, Jacob’s long sadness evaporated and he blessed her for having lifted his spirits (Chapters of Rabbi Eliezer). We will have to examine that story more carefully in another essay, but clearly the brothers were prepared to pay attention to Jacob’s feelings. They were not prepared for his emotional response to their words; they were not prepared for his response to their admission that they had been lying to him for more than two decades even as they watched him in constant grief. Their words were daggers in his heart.

Their admission that they were liars and that they had been unwilling to consider his agony more hurt him than the news of Joseph being alive brought him joy! His disappointment in then was greater than his joy over the news! Jacob’s emotional response to the news and their admission was to convey to them that his concern over they are spiritual well-being was far more important to him than the news that Joseph was alive!

Could he have conveyed a more important lesson?

I think not.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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25
Dec

Spiritual Tools: Tzitzit: From Chanukah to the Tenth of Tevet

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in 613 Concepts, Holidays, Prayer

Tzitzit are always associated with light; they are even described as Clothes of Light. In this, they are also associated with Hanukkah, the Festival of Light. When we hold our Tzitzit during the Shema, we hold all four corners in our hands so that we are surrounded by Light. This is a perfect Kavanah to keep in mind as we move from Hanukkah, the Festival of Light, to the Tenth of Tevet, when Jerusalem was surrounded by the invading Babylonian army.

Rabbi Meir used to say: When a man wears the Tefillin upon his head and upon his arm, as prescribed, and his four knotted fringes enclosing on all four sides, and when as he enters his house there is a mezuzah at the entrance, you find that Seven Testimonies of his awe of God surround him like a wall. It was of such a person that David said: “The angel of God camps round about them who fear Him, and deliver them (Psalms 34:8).” [Midrash Tehillim 6:1]

Kavanah: “I hold my Tzitzit surrounding me as a wall to protect me from the enemies who surround me.”

This can also be used as a Kavanah when reciting Psalm 34 in the Shabbat morning Pesukei d’Zimrah.

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Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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10
Oct

A Willow is Not an Aravah

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in 613 Concepts, Holidays, What is the Reason?

A rose may be a rose, but a willow is not an Aravah:

It is Succot for me whenever I drive on a road through trees. No matter the time of year, I am on the lookout for kosher Aravot – Willows – for my Lulav and Hoshanot.

There are magnificent Aravot in Dobb’s Ferry, but they aren’t kosher. The leaves’ edges are serrated, and since “Her (Torah’s) ways are ways of pleasantness and all her paths are peaceful,” (Proverbs 3:17) sharp points, unpleasant and not peaceful, disqualify them.

Hastings on the Hudson has some “peaceful” leaves, but not the perfect combination of red and green branches.

Weeping Willows point down; they don’t reach up. The Z’man Simchateinu – the Time of Our Happiness – also precludes any weeping.

I’ve stopped on roads in New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, Connecticut, to the chagrin of my wife and the Highway Patrol officers who suspect that someone who stops on a highway to examine willow leaves is DWI.

There are willows that grow near stagnant water. There are willows with round leaves. There are willows with white branches. There are even willows with leaves in the shape of triangles.

Willows are everywhere. The perfect Aravah is harder to find. I once trekked through the forests between Santa Clara and Santa Cruz for hours on a failed search for the perfect Aravah.

So, I go to Riverdale Judaica to buy my Aravot. The hours of searching make the two kosher Aravot so much more precious. They are treasured. There are willows everywhere, but these willows are not willows; they are Aravot.

Author Info:

Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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4
Sep

Ki Teitzei & Rembrandt

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in 613 Concepts, Holidays, Portion of the Week

Years ago I read a book by Anthony Storr, “Churchill’s Blackdog and Kafka’s Mice,” an exploration of how mental illness plays a role in creativity and achievement.

Dr. Storr describes how Churchill’s battle with depression empowered him to assume the role of prime minister in the darkest time in Britain’s history. Young Winston decided to name his depression, “Blackdog,” enabling him to treat his dark thoughts as something outside of himself. Once he was able to interact with his depression as an “Other,” he was able to fight it.

I decided to use a similar approach to my Yetzer Harah, or, Evil Inclination: I name it “Rembrandt,” because the artist was able to express so much even in black, the darkest color. I practiced interacting with my Yetzer Harah as an external enemy: When Yetzer Harah begins to speak, I immediately address it as Rembrandt, someone else, and find that I am better equipped to listen to his arguments and argue back.

“When you will go out to war against your enemies, and God, your Lord, will deliver him into your hand, and you will capture his captivity: And you will see among its captivity a woman who is beautiful of form, and you will desire her, you may take her to yourself for a wife.” (Deuteronomy 21:10-11) “The Torah spoke only in response to the Evil Inclination.” (Sifre)

The Torah takes the Evil Inclination seriously. It does not demand that we ignore his seductions, or simply stand up to him. There are times when we lack the power to meet him face to face in battle. We need to strategize against him, even to the point of allowing him some small victories now and again. (See Zohar at the beginning of Bo that describes Job’s battle with his Evil Inclination.)

So, “Rembrandt,” “Blackdog,” or whichever name you may choose, we are ready to fight you for what you are; an external enemy. “When you go out to war,” the first step is to realize that the battle is external, and can be fought there. We don’t have to allow him to enter.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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